Album Review – Chris Stapleton’s “Starting Over”
Chris Stapleton has always been the most unlikely of superstars. Slightly overweight 36-year-olds with beards and a burly countenance aren’t supposed to be the beneficiaries of the confluence of positive circumstances that powered Stapleton so high into the stratosphere of country music, he’s transcended the genre to be a superstar for all of music.
His debut album Traveller is now secured in the pantheon of legacy releases from the spectacular and sustained popularity it continues to enjoy well over five years since its initial release, while his rendition of the country classic “Tennessee Whiskey” is worthy of regarding with similar prestige and impact.
But Stapleton’s followup sessions to Traveller—specifically his 2-part From ‘A’ Room volumes—have not fared similarly for a number of reasons. Principally, they were made up of mostly previously-released material when it came to the songs, and the passion found in their short tracks lists didn’t necessarily meet or surpass his original sessions in Studio ‘A’ with producer Dave Cobb. They had their moments of course. But ultimately, the two records should probably be considered more as addendums to Traveller than dedicated followups.
This leads on to the fundamental challenge the now 44-year-old Chris Stapleton faces walking into what should be considered the true followup to Traveller. How does he take the incredible momentum enjoyed by that record, and try to extend it into this effort? For some songwriters and performers, wild success leads to a lack of passion, since goals and dreams have been accomplished, and financial ease secured. This was the scenario Stapleton found himself in while still residing in the blast radius of Traveller‘s success, trying to field new material.
But giving himself time for his creative batteries to recharge, and leaning into his strengths no matter what influences or genres they express, Chris Stapleton was able to turn in an impassioned, and quite expressive and involved record in Starting Over, that feels wholly Stapleton in style, approach, and scope.
Starting Over is a combination of Southern soul songs and straight ahead rock tracks, and a few sentimental ballads that constitute the smattering of country tunes. Guilty of being country mostly by association, Starting Over is truly more an embodiment of elemental “Americana,” meaning an amalgam of American roots influences, presented with a relative seamlessness between them.
Some of the tracks of Starting Over feel simply like launching pads, or underhanded lobs in batting practice for Chris Stapleton to smoke over the fence with his soaring, powerful, and soulful voice. “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice,” “Cold” co-written with his rhythm section of J.T. Cure and Derek Mixon, and “Whiskey Sunrise” are testaments to Stapleton’s effortless and natural delivery, and were written to be as such, while blistering guitar parts and other production rise to meet the epic nature of these efforts of blue-eyed soul.
By the time you get to “Arkansas” co-written with Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, you’ve reached decidedly rock territory, as you do with “Hillbilly Blood.” Energy is sometimes what Stapleton can lack if he’s not careful. That’s the rumored reason Sturgill Simpson showed up to Stapleton’s Saturday Night Live gig a couple of years ago, to give the moment a little bit of a catalyst. The result was a killer version of “Midnight Train To Memphis.”
There’s no worry about lulls in energy on Starting Over, unless that’s the intent, like in the opening title track, which upon first inspection might feel like just another ho hum Stapleton song. But through the jangle of the acoustic guitar, the simplicity of the approach, and the intimacy of singing with wife Morgane, it makes for one of the better entries in the Chris Stapleton catalog, and a worthy track to title the record behind.
You can tell in moments Stapleton is still stretching for inspiration for what to write about. Any fans of puppy dogs will find favor with “Maggie’s Song,” even if writing about your dog is pretty elementary, and the track perhaps barrows a bit too much from The Band’s “The Weight.” Including a rendition of Guy Clark’s “Worry B Gone” doesn’t add too terribly much to the record, but does give it a bit of lightheartedness, which helps balance out some of the more heavy moments, whether they’re about dead dogs, lost lovers, or the tragedy in Las Vegas that resulted in the enraged moments of “Watch You Burn,” where the album reaches its cacophonous peak.
Meanwhile the truly country moments of Starting Over are some of its most sedate. “When I’m With You” reminds you intently of Willie & Waylon. “Joy of My Life” and “Old Friends” capture Stapleton’s more passive and reflective side. Don’t come expecting a lot of twang. But Starting Over is passable as country just as much as you could pass it off as anything. No specific song will barrel you over from a writing standpoint. But each track is solid, while the performances are what renders certain tracks as stellar.
Starting Over is also bookended with a more underlying message. Where the beginning title track speaks to leaving it all behind and sparking something anew somewhere else (maybe on a coast somewhere), the ending track “Nashville, TN” is very much a Dear John letter to Music City, where Stapleton has been such a fixture, and such an influence for the last decade or so. Whether it’s more metaphorical or a true sayonara, it adds a bit of intrigue to the album, and even veers a little into the country protest territory.
The greatest adversity for Chris Stapleton and Starting Over is the sentiment surrounding him as a known quantity, a sort of “been there and done that” attitude some approach his music with, especially more dedicated, hardcore music fans. He’s in a strange position as one of the few stars of substance that has ingratiated himself to the masses, which makes him easy to snub by the musical elite.
But Chris Stapleton’s talent is still undeniable, his appeal worthy of the wide recognition he enjoys, and it’s all unmistakable and captured with renewed passion in moments very much worthy of your attention on Starting Over.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
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Purchase Chris Stapleton’s Starting Over
November 16, 2020 @ 10:03 am
“Devil Always Made me Think Twice” was great. I enjoyed the album just like I expected to, and Stapleton has proven himself a great guitar player.
November 17, 2020 @ 2:34 am
I think Stapleton is 42 or 43.
November 16, 2020 @ 10:06 am
Good review Trig. I like Chris Stapleton, he’s obviously an amazing talent and I enjoy his music when I hear it. But it just doesn’t really move the needle for me.
November 16, 2020 @ 10:07 am
I can definitely see this album racking up some awards. Maggie’s song is one of my favorites
November 16, 2020 @ 10:22 am
Maggie’s song might hurt Hoptown’s heart.
Hopefully, it will bring a smile too, as he remembers his Maggie
November 16, 2020 @ 11:01 am
I skipped over it the first couple listens. Then on a playlist, it got me good. I didn’t know what was playing until the part where Maggie woke up one morning and couldn’t use her legs… exactly like my Maggie. I went to my truck and cried. I realized I never cried when Maggie passed. My eyes water up, but there was too much to do. People were surprised when I went to work the next day. I literally have been working my ass off since she passed. It was nice to finally cry, then smile. Thank you!
November 16, 2020 @ 1:53 pm
Glad you are ok
November 17, 2020 @ 12:52 pm
I hear that. My dog passed just about the time COVID hit. And damed if it took me six days in the elk woods to finally break down and cry for her. This song is a beautiful memoriam and a reminder that dogs still hold a special place in our hearts. It’s okay to be a baby for a minute and cry for your dog.
November 17, 2020 @ 1:58 pm
It’s ok to be a Man, & cry for your dog too
November 17, 2020 @ 2:13 pm
November 16, 2020 @ 10:25 am
“When I’m With You” is my personal favorite. It’s certainly a solid album. I’m also glad he finally recorded a proper studio version of “You Should Probably Leave”
January 26, 2021 @ 11:33 am
Fantastic cd! This cd is exactly what I expected from Chris. They just keep getting better. I wish he would make them more often. I can’t wait for the next.
November 16, 2020 @ 10:33 am
I’ve listened to this album a couple times now and really like it. It is solid and worth listening too. Sometimes, I wish he would go for it more with that amazing voice. Good review Trigger.
November 16, 2020 @ 10:39 am
It’s good, not great. “Starting Over” is probably my favorite track.
November 16, 2020 @ 11:08 pm
I hate to say this, but the verse to “Starting Over” sounds like a faster version of Blake Shelton’s “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking”. [You can ban me now.]
Cool Lester Smooth
November 17, 2020 @ 4:04 am
In fairness…that’s one of Shelton’s most tolerable songs, haha
November 17, 2020 @ 7:15 am
Eddie, you are spot on with that comparison!
November 17, 2020 @ 12:56 pm
Only difference is that Stapleton could run circles around Shelton with his range and talent. Blake Shelton has given in to the strings that run the country music industry and should not be in comparison to Mr. Stapleton IMO.
November 16, 2020 @ 10:42 am
“Old Friends” is a cover of Guy Clark’s version of the song. Stapleton doesn’t do much to make it his own, in my opinion, though he does do some beautiful things with that rich, resonant voice. Emmylou sang with Guy on his version (title song of Guy’s 1998 album), and it sounds like she’s singing on Stapleton’s, too.
This is my favorite version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCM8sI1RRDI, by Willie, Roger Miller, and Ray Price.
November 16, 2020 @ 2:16 pm
Terry Allen does a great version on the expansive Guy Clark tribute album.
November 16, 2020 @ 10:59 am
I love that I’ve been hearing “Starting Over” on the radio.
In that context it’s far and away better than 99% of what gets play.
November 16, 2020 @ 11:04 am
It’s in a RAM commercial too! I hear it during every NFL game. Funny, 15 years ago I railed against Wilco for whoring out songs to Volkswagen, but today I think it’s cool.
November 16, 2020 @ 11:55 am
Whiskey Sunrise is pretty good. Hillbilly Blood for me is as close to the authentic Stapleton Outlaw sound and writing hes known for. These two songs grabbed me from the get go. It would be a stretch to call this a Country music record. Its rock and blues to my ear. But im ok with Stapleton as a rock performer. As for blues, his voice is his chief weapon of threat. His guitar playing is, well, kinda pedestrian. Competent, but lacking the fire of a great blues artist. I wish he would hire a great guitarist for his band. Hes determined to stay lean and keep all the money for himself apparently. Same reason, I assume he doesn’t take a steel player on the road either.
Still, its a decent record and I’m sure it will sell and do well in awards. As for the Nashville song, I really don’t think he means it. He made quite a bit of money writing songs for Music Row artists. And he just built a new house and studio in the area. (Oddly, my cousins boyfriend was the builder…go figure…and no I haven’t met Stapleton)
I was skeptical about this record, but its better than I thought it would be. Now, about the cover, uh…Chris, The Beatles White Album has already been done. You think a blank white album cover is creative? Cmon, you can do better than that. I do photography on the side, call me sometime.
November 16, 2020 @ 1:37 pm
Sometimes Paul Franklin goes on the road with him. Steel players ain’t cheap from what I hear
November 16, 2020 @ 6:50 pm
There probably ain’t many left!
November 16, 2020 @ 6:55 pm
Robbie turner as well. Until he got into the accident (which I hope he is doing well). He used to post here on occasion.
November 17, 2020 @ 1:00 pm
I’m generally curious why you think the interplay of blues, rock, and country is a bad thing? I know this channel hits heavy on the true roots of country, but Stapleton has already cemented his style…a blending of the three. It’s fantastic! The same argument could be made for Sturgill and he’s too much of a rock and roll musician and damned if every album he’s ever put out isn’t gold! This is who Stapleton is, unabashedly. He’s different. He’s not music row material. He’s raw and uncut. This is why I love this shit out of him!
November 17, 2020 @ 2:40 pm
Reply to Travis. I’m a genre guy. I like categories, they provide a method of organizing and classifying music.. Ive been through most genres in my listening career. I’m not a fan of monogenre.
D Country music is what really speaks to my heart more than anything else. And I include the bluegrass branch and rockabilly branch in that. I include all eras of Country from Louvin Brothers, Carters, to all the Hanks and so on. Country Rock was a weird term used in the 70s to describe everyone from Waylon to The Eagles and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Generally speaking, I like all that stuff too. So, why criticize Stapleton? Well, having seen him take traditional bluegrass and put some Outlaw attitude and style into it, you might say it was in my mind, as good as it gets. To me, he is a very country kinda character, and he now has an enormous platform. Selfishly, i wish he would do more of that country outlaw sound and less blues and soul. His voice is an elite one, and capable of singing many genres and styles well, I get it. He teases us with covers of Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, George Jones and so on, so you know he loves country, but ultimately he’s like you say, gonna do a hybrid. But don’t misunderstand me, I like this new record, whatever genre it is. I’m gonna put it on heavy rotation. That said, hes not saving country music as many of us might wish.
But we do have some preservationists like Dale Watson, Malpass Brothers, Dailey and Vincent, Mo Pitney and the like. Folks like John Pardi give a little hope too.
November 16, 2020 @ 11:13 am
I love it. I wish it was more southern rock than Americana (“Cold” and “You Should Probably Leave” do nothing for me). I was hoping the inclusion of Mike Campbell would give this album more of a Mudcrutch swampy, southern rock feel, so I’m surprised the more subtle tracks rise to the occasion (title track, “When I’m With You”).
I protested Traveller until I wanted included in on the fun (even today I pick cherry it). And I agree the From a Room albums felt more like B tracks and rarities than an a body of work. So, this is the first Stapleton album I’m on board with in a big way. Even with the two tracks that aren’t my style, the album is an effortless full album listen that is an emotional rollercoaster and nicely paced. I believe this will be next year’s CMA Album of the Year because it’s accessible to everyone across the aisle and the album we are need in this time of healing (Starting Over has been playing in my head for weeks).
November 17, 2020 @ 2:53 pm
The funny thing about musicians like Stapleton and Sturgill is they don’t give a shit how we interpret their music. Part of the craft is creating art that isn’t beholden to how the listener will react to it.
November 16, 2020 @ 11:36 am
Stapleton’s best yet. I think it’s better than Traveller. Unreal how he can use his voice kind of like an electrified instrument on its own. Impressed.
November 16, 2020 @ 11:41 am
solid as i expected, agree is a good mix of southern rock, r&b(the original r&b) and country soul, a little light on the songwriting side maybe and three covers? but in the end thumbs up for him!
November 16, 2020 @ 11:48 am
What’s the third cover? Worry B Gone, Old Friends …
November 16, 2020 @ 12:01 pm
Fogerty’s ‘Joy of My Life’
November 16, 2020 @ 11:47 am
Traveler is one of my all time albums. Starting Over This is Maybe as good if not better than Traveler. It is a great album.
November 16, 2020 @ 11:53 am
I think Stapleton had created an album that will cause many to ask the question, “Where does he go next?” What will the next offering be? Straight-ahead rock? A blues album? Etc.?
Possibly this is what he wanted to accomplish. That being making an album that will be seen as a springboard into his next launch that will define the second half of his career and keep many in exuberant speculation.. If that was, indeed, his goal, I feel he accomplished it.
Many songs on here are worthy listens, so let’s enjoy the ride while Chris sets up to tell us what his future holds as the sun reaches starts to slowly go down into the inevitable sunset. I for one would crap my shorts in incontrollable glee if he would come out next with a straight-ahead progressive bluegrass album with Marty Stuart wailing on the mandolin.
November 16, 2020 @ 2:10 pm
Straight ahead bluegrass album? You mean like those 2 Steeldrivers records he made? I think that ship sailed. (Unfortunately) i’d love to be wrong. Can’t top those 2 albums. That to me represented Stapleton creatively at the top of his game. Blue Side of The Mountain is as good as it gets IMO.
November 16, 2020 @ 7:40 pm
November 17, 2020 @ 9:41 am
Agreed on the Steeldrivers.
He hasn’t brought a song anywhere close to the likes of “Sticks That Made Thunder” on any of these solo records.
November 18, 2020 @ 7:10 am
Honestly those two Steeldrivers albums might be my favorite albums ever. I wish he would get some inspiration to go back bluegrass, but I doubt he will
November 21, 2020 @ 5:17 am
Amen brother. Those albums were just fantastic. I quite like what Stapleton does now, and I quite like what the Steeldrivers do now, but I wish they’d join forces again. Doesn’t seem like it’s on the cards unfortunately, but a man can dream.
November 16, 2020 @ 12:05 pm
I think this album show’s that Stapleton has made his money….so he is only going to make the albums he wants to now. And this one proves that’s a good thing.
IMHO, i think the Fogerty cover is unexpectedly his best performance on it.
November 16, 2020 @ 12:50 pm
I was definitely chopping some onions when I heard “Maggie’s song” that I’m sure a lot of dog owners were doing as well. I agree that the last song leaves intrigue as it sounds to an extent that Stapleton is doing a “it’s not you, it’s me” to Music Row
November 16, 2020 @ 1:07 pm
This guy has set such a high bar for himself and others in his industry, while writing songs that run the entire spectrum of folk, country, bluegrass, soul, r&b, blues, southern rock, ect that there is no possible way he could ever keep satisfying everyone and topping himself. That’s a great thing! I love some of his stuff, like some and could pass on some but, just listening to a few of these new tunes, it’s just crazy how great he is a what he does. His voice, delivery, songwriting, chord structures are just so well honed and executed. Even if I’m not into all his stuff, I’m glad that this dude is where he is, raising the bar without being heavy handed or putting on an act. Whatever Chris Stapleton does, I’m here for it just as a matter of principal, if not for the music itself. Even if it’s not my thing, it’s leaps and bounds above the vast majority of mainstream music in any genre.
November 16, 2020 @ 1:11 pm
Nashville, TN is the standout.
November 16, 2020 @ 1:47 pm
So far, these comments are about music!
I’m no average listener but, to me, the point made above about the songs hitting a bit too close to their inspiration has become my problem with Chris. I think he’s a damn good songwriter. I think he’s a great singer. I think he’d be crazy NOT to lean into the blue eyed soul thing and capitalize on fans of other forms of roots music because it is clearly authentic for him and that’s what counts. I think it’s a fine album for Chris and probably follows Traveller better than country squire followed purgatory (which makes the Luke warm reception interesting To me).
Ultimately, the one criticism I have to offer is how quickly I can pinpoint where he got the inspiration for several of the songs. While every songwriter writes songs based on other songs they love, the band ain’t the only ones easily pinpointed on this album. For example, Cold comes from the hook of that Justin Timberlake song my wife liked with the rap verse up front down to the exact same vocal run. “The old me’s dead and gone…. Cooollllllddddd.” He is a good songwriter but, as someone who favors rule breakers, he’s maybe following that Nashville hit formula a bit close. Take a hit and make a hit. Granted, he set the whole world on fire out of nowhere with Traveller so, I don’t envy his position in making this record. Side note, he always has the best hats in modern music! (I omitted “country” for the purists although we all know that I get to decide who is “country” and I’m glad to claim Chris!
November 16, 2020 @ 2:11 pm
My initial thought about Cold was it sounded like it could have come from that Justin Timberlake country album we thought we were getting.
November 16, 2020 @ 3:17 pm
I had a similar thought.
November 17, 2020 @ 11:15 am
Interesting. I like both of those guys although both are a bit outside of my wheelhouse and one is WAY outside of my wheelhouse. Justin is my wife’s celeb crush (which is a bit concerning as I sort of look like Chris but, anyways), I’ve been exposed to him more than most pop guys I think Chris just sort of had some of that mysterious vibe going that my all time favorite writers have for a while there. It is sort of like watching Danny Gatton play guitar where even good guitar players go, “oh, I see, you’re an alien who isn’t constrained by human limitations.” Chris has written some lines that sort of made the hair on my arms stand up in the past. Therefore, to me it was just disappointing to see through his creative process so clearly and quickly. It is all fair game and, even absent the friendship and working relationship between the two, I don’t mean that it even approaches something unethical, this album was just sort of seeing the wizard of Oz for the first time for me. I do like it and him but, was disappointed to discover he is human (aside from his voice obviously). Another general positive is, he has gotten much better at playing guitar if he’s taking those solos. It sure sounds like his tone to me. He keeps it pretty simple but, I think he has become a pretty tasty player.
November 19, 2020 @ 2:28 pm
wow that’s basically a pop song …and thats not inspiration…its exactly the hook for dead and gone ! and he gets away easily with stuff like this like he totally stole Etta James (I’d Rather Go Blind ) …i dont get how he gets this amazing artist reputation but he has no originality at all
November 16, 2020 @ 2:11 pm
It’s hard not to like Chris Stapleton, and so, I like this album. However, since Stapleton’s vocal talent and efficient songwriting are so utterly effortless, it frequently seems to me like he’s not actually putting in much effort. So, his output tends to feel “good” but not “great.”
I also tend to think doing a tearjerker about your dead dog (despite being a dog owner myself) is cheating, and doing a fire and brimstone diatribe about the Vegas mass shooter, with swelling gospel choir in the background, is a tad tasteless, if not pandering a bit – especially since he wasn’t there.
That said, I don’t bother handwringing when it comes to what “genre” Stapleton fits into. My favorite artists always seem to have toes in multiple genres anyway. Stapleton’s done bluegrass, soul, rock, country. It’s all good in my book, and I do particularly love his blending of soul and country – similarly, that’s what I dig about an artist like Yola.
I known Dave Cobb gets shit, but I think he’s got a nice natural production aesthetic, unlike Dan Auerbach who forces his own twinkly retro hipster shtick on every artist he produces. I’d like to see Dave Cobb work with Yola, is what I’m saying. Also, can we get a solo album from Morgane? She’s a fantastic singer and I think her contributions to Chris’ songs are way under-appreciated.
November 16, 2020 @ 3:15 pm
+1 on a Morgane record
November 17, 2020 @ 4:32 pm
+2 on a Morgane record
November 19, 2020 @ 8:00 am
+3 on Morgane
November 24, 2020 @ 3:48 pm
Good point about Auerbach. See exhibit A: Marcus King’s latest album. It was fine, but sounded like a Black Keys record with a better singer.
November 16, 2020 @ 3:08 pm
Love this guy.
November 16, 2020 @ 4:11 pm
you had your work cut out for you with this review trigger . as usual , you nailed it . imho.
i’m enjoying everyone’s take here . i think overall it shows an intelligent and discerning group of music lovers who seem to voice a consensus about the record which I’m in pretty-much total agreement with : we love the guy’s voice , his talent , his substance and really LIKE ( but don’t necessarily LOVE ) his new record . that’s what I’m getting when I distill these comments .
to my ear , all of his albums have included , for better or for worse , all of his musical directions ( save , perhaps , bluegrass ,which imo remains his strongest suit ) . regardless , its REAL , its honest , its not pandering , its not trendy . isn’t this all we can really ask from these folks ?
November 16, 2020 @ 5:21 pm
The more rocking tunes make me think there’s an alternate reality out there where that is the sound cody candada and Seth james created when they formed the departed years ago. There are a few youtube versions of midnight train to Memphis with Seth singing that will make the above make sense.
November 16, 2020 @ 5:33 pm
Speaking of new Nashville albums… These are some future releases
Thomas Rhett Double Album
Eric Church Double Album
Morgan Wallen Double Album
Double albums are officially the new thing due to streaming figures
November 17, 2020 @ 6:48 am
If it’s solely because of streaming though, why even call it a double album when the physical album is basically obsolete? Just call it a deluxe version 4 months later like everyone else does and move on (;
November 16, 2020 @ 6:02 pm
I was a fan of the Jompson Brothers and really didn’t care for Traveler when it came out. I hardly listened to it until it became a big deal and decided to give it another chance. Stapleton as a solo artist has grown on me, and despite the criticism of the next two albums, I liked them too. But this album I think is the first album that I just loved instantly. It marks a good combination of the southern rock, country, blues, and Americana, of his solo albums and the Jompson Brothers. I think Stapleton considers himself a guitar player as well as a songwriter, and it was nice to hear that aspect let loose again. I’ve been listening nonstop.
Cool Lester Smooth
November 16, 2020 @ 6:41 pm
I gotta say, “I Think You Should Leave” is the only song from this record going on my forever list…but it’s really fucking good.
November 16, 2020 @ 6:56 pm
Absolutely killer work on this album by J.T. Cure on the Fender bass.
November 16, 2020 @ 7:20 pm
There’s that ole 8 out of 10 again
November 17, 2020 @ 5:16 am
I’m not gonna say it sucks because it doesn’t. However, it definitely ranks FAR below “Traveller” and the “From A Room” volumes for me. There’s just nothing on it that I couldn’t live without listening to again. Overall, I would say it was a letdown for me personally after such a long wait for new material. To each their own though.
November 17, 2020 @ 6:46 am
Overall I think the album is good, and while I am partial to the outlaw country vibe. I think it takes a unique voice like Whitey Morgan or Jamey Johnsons to sustain a career making albums with that consistent sound. I think with his vocal skills and the sound of Chris’s voice, it is much better served when he plays the swamp rock/blue eyed soul tracks. Jompson bros type stuff. I had never heard “Joy of my Life” but found it interesting that Fogarty wrote it. You can really hear the CCR “born on the bayou” influence on “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice”. Imho not much he could do to top traveler but better then the from A room albums.
November 17, 2020 @ 7:22 am
So far, when I hear ““Devil Always Made Me Think Twice”, I can’t help but sing “Run Through The Jungle” a little to myself. I dig it, though. And “Joy of My Life” is from Fogerty’s 1997 album “Blue Moon Swamp,” which is my favorite solo album of his.
I agree that Stapleton is a natural swamp rocker. Along with my voice, his guitar tone is pretty swampy, too.
November 17, 2020 @ 7:24 am
“his” voice, that is.
November 17, 2020 @ 7:38 am
Oh, darn. I was thinking “that Jack W. must have a helluva voice. Why’s he hanging out with us?”
November 17, 2020 @ 8:52 am
Did you just say Chris Stapleton doesn’t have a unique voice?
Do you mean his literal singing voice, or his “voice” like personality or character? If the former, damn, tough crowd. I think Stapleton’s got one of the best and most unique singing voices in music, period.
If the latter, I think his ability to play with many genres, often at once, is a major asset. There’s a reason Traveller still sells so well. It isn’t easily pigeonholed by genre and it’s therefore more appealing to a wider audience. Fans of country like it, fans of Americana like it, fans of soul music like it etc. “Beware the mono-genre!” for sure, but slavish allegiance to a single genre or style isn’t necessarily a great thing.
As big a fan of them as I am, I think Whitey Morgan and Jamey Johnson sticking so closely to the same sound and style, album after album, actually erodes some of my excitement for them. Familiarity is nice, but it does breed contempt, as they say.
November 17, 2020 @ 9:28 am
Trigger, I think you come off too dismissive about the songwriting in “Maggie’s Song”. Writing about your dog is elementary in the same way that writing about a girl is. Is it simple? Sure. Has it been done before? Of course. But so has every relationship song. That’s what our connections with our pets are, another relationship. Humans experience real love and emotion in regards to their pet and I feel like you are dismissing the legitimacy of the song topic as a whole. The song is written beautifully with great storytelling as well, so I do not think you even have to be a big dog lover to relate to the song. It is about the passing of a thing you love. Told with care and true emotion. I know you didn’t say you hated it or anything, but still.
November 17, 2020 @ 9:32 am
Additionally, I have been waiting for someone else to point out how much “Maggie’s Song” sounds like “The Weight”. Every time I play it I hear The Band’s classic. I wonder if it was intentional or if Stapleton will comment on the similarities.
November 17, 2020 @ 10:37 am
The intro and first line made me think the same thing.
Billy Wayne Ruddick
November 17, 2020 @ 11:45 am
He did the same thing with Tennessee Whiskey. To my knowledge, I don’t think he has ever commented on the fact that it’s a near exact copy of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind (music and vocal inflections). In fact, I think he has stated in interviews that the music to the song was something they spontaneously came up with during a sound check. No way on earth that a room full of professional musicians could record Stapleton’s version of Tennessee Whiskey and not think “man, we basically just re-recorded I’d Rather Go Blind with different lyrics”.
November 19, 2020 @ 3:32 am
Agree. It’s a little weird.
November 17, 2020 @ 9:35 am
this guy needs to spend a couple years running back the Allman Brothers catalogue with Warren and Derek. Let’s just cut the shit and let the fat man get out there and wail. it’s what the people need.
November 18, 2020 @ 3:15 pm
Great idea. That record would sell in the millions.
November 17, 2020 @ 9:44 am
I was hoping to be really moved by this once I heard Mike Campbell was in the mix, but it didn’t happen unfortunately. Also, from the songwriting angle (with all due respect) – I can’t help but wishing that along with his stellar voice, you’d hear some clever titles/lyrics, interesting metaphors, better hooks, maybe a touch of humor injected into some of the tracks. I was waiting to perk up from any of these happening and they didn’t.
November 17, 2020 @ 9:53 am
average writer at best. average guitar player at best. great vocal talent. stick him with dudes that know what the hell they are doing, pull the string, and let him go.
November 17, 2020 @ 10:31 am
I think you make a vaild point , Pat . but I also thing the sum is greater than the parts when it comes to CS . one can only imagine the possibilities of his musical talents in the hands of some of the GREAT writers …and I don’t mean an album of covers . I mean NEW unheard writes . but again …..I think CS is doing better work than 99% of the mainstreamers . In fact , I’d be very interested in an album by Morgane singing some stuff by some of the great young female writers around right now from ingrid to the tenille’s …miranda etc… .
November 17, 2020 @ 11:10 am
Fair. Like Jones. Got no problem with it if he wanted to do it. I just think the music needs to match the voice, in general, especially if you are gonna wail like him. It’s why steel drivers worked. I don’t think he can pull country off. Just sounds too small. And country is my favorite. So it’s not a dig. Just not a fit
November 17, 2020 @ 12:48 pm
Agreed completely with you guys on this.
November 17, 2020 @ 12:50 pm
Starting Over is one of the best albums to come of this god forsaken year of 2020. He’s rough around the edges, loud and unapologetic, sweet and soulful all at once. His music, his lyrics, and his stories are pure in every form.
November 17, 2020 @ 2:47 pm
I was a little worried that I was going to be disappointed with this album, given that it would be his first album of mostly new songs since Traveler. Wondering if he still had the fire to make new music. Glad to find out that it’s another winner. I’m kind of a natural roots rock fan and this album is just chock full of quality roots rock comfort food. Like a John Hiatt album typically is.
November 17, 2020 @ 3:50 pm
So you like Hiatt Jack? Yeah, I think he’s amazing too. I got his newest album and its fine, but man. age is taking its toll on his voice. Seen him a few times live and always loved it. Crossing Muddy Waters, Drive South, Tennessee Plates…killer songs.
November 17, 2020 @ 3:22 pm
We need an album with a Jompson Brothes vibe.
November 17, 2020 @ 5:42 pm
The song ” Starting Over ” sounds like he sampled ” Corn Bread Wedding Cake ”
by David Ball… Go to youtube and give it a listen and see what you think…
November 17, 2020 @ 6:23 pm
Would you agree that Stapleton in a way made good on the promise Jamey Johnson held out a decade ago? I’m not referring to this album necessarily, but everything that happened after Traveller came out.
November 18, 2020 @ 10:44 am
I spend 3 to 4 hrs a/day listening to Chris Stapleton-actually pay extra monthly to listen to a station that plays only his songs–I love his & Morgane’s voices and the words of his songs !!
Thom's Country Bunker
November 18, 2020 @ 6:00 pm
It’s a nice record but it ain’t no country record.
November 19, 2020 @ 1:59 pm
I saw a critic or writer calling him one of our greatest songwriters ? huh
you see my view on him is that he sounds amazing cause the music scene is horrible…in the 90s not many would have cared … cause we had real songwriting then
men likes him too cause he has that look with the beard…personally hes cute and harmless but also pretty predictable and repetitive